PM nominee Gobzems loses lawyer's license for disciplinary violations

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The Latvian Council of Sworn Advocates has decided to revoke the lawyer’s license of prime ministerial nominee Aldis Gobzems (KPV LV), the council’s chairman Janis Rozembergs told the LETA newswire November 28.

He said that the decision was based on a ruling passed by the Council of Sworn Advocates’ panel for disciplinary cases.

According to unconfirmed information obtained by LETA, Gobzems’ license is being revoked because of his remarks about the murdered lawyer and insolvency administrator Martins Bunkus. The decision has been taken in Gobzems’ absence.

Decisions of the Council of Sworn Advocates can be appealed in accordance with provisions of the Administrative Procedure Law.

The Council of Sworn Advocates has started two disciplinary cases against Gobzems, At the beginning of November he asked that they should be closed as groundless. He also argued that the cases had lost their relevance as he had suspended his legal practice after election to the Saeima.

The first disciplinary case against Gobzems was started in late August based on a complaint filed by the family of the late lawyer and insolvency administrator Bunkus, lawyer Romualds Vansovics and several other applicants, who was gunned down in dramatic style earlier this year. No-one has as yet been charged with his murder.

The second disciplinary case against Gobzems was based on an application submitted by physician Indra Steimane.

During his legal career, Gobzems has headed the Insolvency Administration (now Insolvency Control Service), as well as represented the interests of several victims of the Maxima store collapse in several civil cases, according to information available in LETA's archive.

Perhaps predictably, Gobzems reacted to the news by claiming it was part of an effort to prevent him taking power.

"I can say very simply - it's absolutely clear to every thinking person that everything is being done to impede my becoming prime minister," he told Latvian Radio's Edgars Kupčs. 

Gobzems then became more poetic in his manner, comparing the situation to "the moment you stand by the window and watch the sparrows behind the pane flap and show their strength," though precisely what he meant by this is open to question.

He then doubled up on his criticism of the murdered Bunkus, descibing him as "a bandit" and suggesting Bunkus' family would in future have to answer for their actions in court, again without making any specific allegations or explanations of what he meant.

The disciplinary problems cast a further shadow over Gobzems' candidacy to become the head of Latvia's executive power. His ability to gain necessary security clearance for access to state secrets - which remains to be decided by the security services - is another talking point, and on November 28 Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs explained on Latvian Radio that having a prime minister or minister without such clearance could result in real consequences at NATO meetings, for example, where discussions involving sensitive material are a matter of course, for obvious reasons.

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